Got Medicaid? Get Prepared, Houston!

MP900422340 (1)Here are some "Get's" that will help you prepare for the Medicaid application process.

Get going five years before you think you need to. Medicaid has a five-year look back to all your parents' financial dealings. Which means transactions conducted during that time may be counted in determining their program eligibility. With this requirement, it’s good to have your parents' banks' names and numbers accessible. Regulators are looking at two things: if you're hiding any money and if you've given any away.

Also, if one or both of your parents still live in the family home and you’d like to keep it, you should try to transfer ownership or set up a trust at least five years before they apply for Medicaid. Although there are some exceptions, typically if you don’t address this issue, you will be forced to sell the home.

Get a power of attorney. While you might never need this to obtain Medicaid approval for your parents, getting your parents to each sign a power of attorney is a good move. There will be many times when you try to act on your parent’s behalf that people will simply say, "I'll need your POA to help you." Believe it or not, even your parents' cable provider won't talk to you unless you have a power of attorney!

Get ready for the paperwork. Start a filing system early, because once you send in that initial application, there will be a boatload of questions that will need answering. And with each request, you'll need to include your case number. You should also have easy access (or memorize your parents’ dates of birth and Social Security numbers).

Get some friends. Although you already are, be pleasant and friendly with caseworkers, bank employees, eldercare counselors, and others that assist you with this process. Remember, the old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." People are more apt to help you with questions or problems if you’re nice versus being a brute.

Get back to your life. When you receive the approval for the Medicaid application, breathe easy. Once approved, there’s an annual "redetermination" process to show that your parents haven't come into wealth. Absent such a windfall, however, the heavy lifting is all over.

For additional information about asset protection and estate planning in Houston, please click here to visit my website.

Reference: Huffington Post, The Oprah Magazine (December 19, 2014) Sanity-Saving Secrets For Caring For Your Aging Parents

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